Golden Gate Canyon is 16 miles northwest of Golden. It encompasses 12,000 acres along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, including portions of Promontory Ridge. Golden Gate Canyon occupies an ecotone between plains and Front Range forest communities along Ralston, Nott and Deer creeks, which drain into Clear Creek.
Precambrian rocks cover most of the park and consist primarily of gneiss and quartz. Near Blue Mountain, underlying rock and bedrock outcrops consist of Precambrian quartzite and twin spruce quartz monzonite. Near Centralia Mountain, bedrock outcrops consist of Precambrian quartz diorite, amphibolite and calc-silicate gneiss. Amphibolite and gneiss are derived from interbedded sediment and tuft. Other Precambrian rocks found on the park include quartzite, felsic gneiss and biotite gneiss, which is derived from shale, siltstone and sandstone. Small Holocene and Pleistocene surface deposits were laid down by wind deposition and erosion from flows in the creeks. Colluvial deposits range in size from silt to large blocks of rock. Alluvial deposits originate mostly from Piney Creek glaciation and contain large proportions of gravel.